Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Met Row Back 'On-Spot' Fines

Yesterday, the Metropolitan Police announced they are rowing back on the increasing use of 'on-the-spot fines' - dished out for being drunk and disorderly, shoplifting and minor public disorder offences.

I raised this in Parliament last month. Use of spot fines has rocketed so that, by 2007, half of all offences 'brought to justice' did not even make it into court. There are numerous instances of fines being dispensed for trivial matters - like jobsworth council officials in Crawley who fined a grandma, when her grand-daughter dropped a couple of crisps. On the other hand, serious offences are not dealt with properly - a man who glassed a pub landlady got off with a caution, whilst one thief was given a dozen consecutive spot fines.

There ought to be some common sense discretion used for the most minor infractions. But equally, if police arrest someone for a significant assault or theft, the matter should go to the magistrates courts, because they have proper powers of punishment. Otherwise, we are just resorting to 'pay-as-you-go' hooliganism and taxing shoplifters, rather than punishing and deterring criminal behaviour.


Lady Stum said...

I totally agree on this one. Is there currently a right of appeal?

June said...

There are not enough police or time to take very incident to court. I worked as a nurse and know what you have to do to get a patient through the smallest process as everything has to of course be clearly planned, documented and processed. I asked the police how long and how many offences they could process in one shift. They said only two. and that is if they are lucky. Often chasing up statements, witnesses, aproved adult duty solicitor runs into the following day. That takes time off being available that day. And as you know. If one iota of the process is missed or not done properly the case gets thrown out of court. On one night when a serious incident happened that took a lot of police to respond I was told that 118 similar incidents (Grevous Bodily Harm and Assualts) had happened in that town just on that one night. There are not the police or resources or time to follow up everyone. Hence the vast majority of victims and public - even of the most serious crimes as without justice. A serious assault now happens in this country every 7 seconds. over 7 million admissions to A&E are due to violence and assualt. You could not process a violent incident in eveyr 7 seconds or process 7 million victims. If small incidents can be addressed in the spot but a note taken to make sure it is not a habit then that frees up police and court to deal with the important stuff. Of course council and people with peaked caps are jobs worth. Chasing money for the sake of it and making all citizens criminals. But that must be for everyone to stop. and that means at court where an elderly lady falling down in a park is fined because she let go of the dog's leash even thought the dog sat there patiently adn like a good boy and did not move. No help for the lady getting up or help suggest getting her home, a taxi or to the hospital. Just slapped the fine and went off leaving her on the floor bloody. Such things are supported by courts police and council. and elderly and vulnerable are too frail and intimidated to go through such a process and risk a heavier fine.

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